Moments before the incident. Matthew Gault photo

As a Film Producer, Your First Job Is to Make Sure the Director Doesn’t Blow Himself Up

I failed

by MATTHEW GAULT

When David Axe asked me to produce AZRAEL, an existential horror movie and sequel to the award-wining THE THETA GIRL, I didn’t realize one of my duties would be making sure he didn’t blow himself up.

I failed to do so during a long shoot that featured pyrotechnics, a hallucinatory nightmare and imaginary aardvarks. The director’s dick took a pounding that day, first from fireworks then from the stray foot of a sloth monster.

It was a weird day.

Working on a small film with a shoestring budget and big dreams is a lot of fun. It’s also an exhausting and miserable experience. The only way to survive it is with a positive attitude, hydration, food and the peculiar familial bond that occurs when a group of weirdos gather to work on any kind of collaborative art project. The two weekends the AZRAEL production spent in an undisclosed warehouse in rural South Carolina bonded the cast and crew together in a way that’s hard to describe.

A big part of that was probably the shared horror at watching the director’s crotch catch fire followed by relieved laughter once he put himself out.

The day began with one of my favorite moments during the entire production. Late in the film, one of the protagonists bust into a drug lab and shoots it up with an AK-47. We needed to film bottles and pans exploding while protecting the table we filmed on and not burning down the warehouse.

Our incredible practical-effects team — Brandon McIver and Jamie Clark — used a false top for the table and a bunch of fireworks to the instruments that would shatter. While they discussed their plans with the director and crew, Tripp Klimka (our monster sloth) strummed a guitar in the background. It was a magic moment and I’m happy I got it on camera.

A sweet moment before the storm

Hours after this happy moment, we were ready to light up the fireworks and film the collision. We knew it was possible Axe could hurt himself or the camera so he held a piece of plexiglass in front of both.

Don’t do this at home. Seriously. It’s dangerous. Don’t be like us. We’re idiots. By this point in the evening, Axe hadn’t eaten (remember to keep your strength up) and was complaining of seeing aardvarks that, um, weren’t actually there.

As the fireworks launched and Axe caught the destruction on camera, nothing hit the plexiglass. Instead, the pinwheeling munitions tumbled below the glass and landed directly on his crotch. Axe scrambled away and batted out the fire. Yes, there’s video of it. No, I won’t share it here. We’re saving it for the Blu-Ray extras.

Axe was safe, but his crotch wasn’t. Hours later, filming a hallucinatory nightmare sequence where one of the antagonists dies and her victims confront her, our brave sloth couldn’t see through his mask and accidentally stepped directly on Axe’s charred nethers. It’s funny now, and it was pretty funny then, too. But it wasn’t safe.

We should have been better prepared. We should have been safer. Axe could have been seriously hurt. Thankfully, he wasn’t. We finished the movie without any major incidents and there’s nothing that brings a cast together faster than watching their leader take a comedic rocket to the dick.

Though I don’t recommend it.

Follow AZRAEL on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and visit our website. AZRAEL’s soundtrack is on Bandcamp.